The City of Kingston’s Department of Planning Services presented on new zoning policy pertaining to schools, places of worship, and environmental protection areas at a public meeting held over Zoom on Thursday, Apr. 29, 2021. The recording is available to stream on the City’s YouTube channel and residents are invited to provide feedback.
The City’s new zoning bylaw is a multi-phase project designed to consolidate Kingston’s five existing zoning bylaws, written in the 1970s and 1990s, into one comprehensive bylaw. The new zoning bylaw will provide a cohesive framework for land use planning and development within the City, and prohibit development in environmentally sensitive areas.
The project is now in its third phase, with two public engagement meetings planned to discuss four special topics ahead of the bylaw’s second draft.
“The patchwork of zoning that applies across the city is inconsistent, with different rules applied to different areas,” said Laura Flaherty, Project Manager for Planning Services at the City of Kingston. “The existing zoning bylaws also predate the current Official Plan, which was adopted in 2010. At present, there is a disconnect between the vision for future growth of the city and the provisions of the existing zoning.”
City staff has been working to simplify and modernize existing language and make larger changes to align the bylaw with Council’s current priorities, maintain unique zoning regulations to protect the character of Kingston’s neighbourhoods, and allow for housing trends.
The COVID-19 pandemic has additionally offered a new lens for creating smart planning strategies, guiding home occupation policies, and necessitating new flexibility within the bylaw.
“The new zoning bylaw is a critical policy project that will impact residents and businesses across the City,” said Paige Agnew, Commissioner of Community Services at the City of Kingston.
“We want to make it easier for good development in Kingston to happen easily,” said Agnew.
City staff will use feedback from the public to guide the second draft of the bylaw, set to be released this summer.
The first public meeting presented on the following possible updates to the second draft of the new zoning bylaw:
It is proposed that in the new bylaw, no distinction will be made between public and private schools as focus shifts from defining who is using the space to how the land is being used. Zones where schools are permitted will be revised and zoning maps will be changed to accommodate different neighbourhoods.
Based on public feedback, City staff have identified an opportunity to allow for complementary uses in places of worship, such as community centres and permissions for additional residential units where they are located.
“This is intended to support the viability of both the place of worship and the surrounding community by supplementing their principle function with additional options benefiting the community,” said Flaherty.
Amendments will be proposed to better implement riparian corridor protections, which will be moved from their current mapped zone to a 30 metre text-based setback around water bodies and wetlands.
“The intent of this is to expand underlying zoning permissions to approximately 4,200 of properties without creating financing or other legal non-conforming use issues on existing properties,” said Flaherty. “So these amendments are expected to create enhanced water body protections because a water body doesn’t need to be specifically shown on a map to be protected.”
The next public meeting will take place on Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2021 to discuss parking standards, tiny houses, shipping containers, and additional residential units. The discussion papers will be released about a month ahead of the meeting. Members of the public are encouraged to participate.
While the City will be proposing new options on these topics, feedback from community members will provide concrete direction for the bylaw. The new zoning bylaw is not proposing to increase height limitations anywhere in the city, as this type of policy requires its own detailed planning process. According to the City, under Section 34 of the Planning Act, Zoning Bylaws have very specific scopes. They do not influence:
- How short-term rental accommodations are regulated
- Who can use or live in a building
- How garbage and recycling is managed
- How City streets and sidewalks are designed
- Techniques used in the construction of buildings
A third and final draft of the zoning bylaw is planned to be released in early 2022.
Kingston residents are invited to review the discussion papers and ask their questions on Get Involved Kingston, and sign up for project updates.